Finishing on a high after a rough start didn’t make the Minnesota Vikings all that happy with their quarterback Christian Ponder, who is no doubt going to need his superstar running back, Adrian Peterson, to be as good as he was last season, which is probably why he’s hardly seeing any action in the preseason.
Peterson did play, but wasn’t really involved in anything except establishing a play-action. He was in the game for two snaps, which was his first time on the field during the 2013 preseason, and his first preseason game since the 2011 exhibition season.
Ponder’s numbers in the end might a bit misleading. He did end up with 17-of-23 for 116 yards, two touchdowns and an interceptions, but it was far from an accurate and cohesive performance. He made some bad throws early on, and fumbled the ball on a third down after being sacked by Ahmad Brooks. He got his first down only after the fourth series and he was also intercepted once.
Yes, he did finish with a 7-of-9 for 48 yards on his final drive, ending the 12-play drive (that went on for 78 yards) with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Joe Webb. It was the best he’s looked all preseason long, but he hasn’t shown a single sign of him actually making progress from a rough 2012, which was all about his complete reliance on his running back, and another season with that kind of relationship between the two players doesn’t bode well for the Vikings’ chances in a very tough division.
The secondary looked bad, and it might look even worse if Chris Cook and his groin injury aren’t coming back soon. Josh Robinson was targeted by Kaepernick a number of times, and combination of him and rookie Xavier Rhodes does sound like somewhat of a defensive nightmare.
The Vikings have some problems at defensive tackle as well – Kevin Williams was hurt on his knee due to a cheap shot from one of the 49ers players which Jared Allen later complained about, while Sharrif Floyd is out for the rest of the preseason (at the least) and Christian Ballard is still away for personal reasons.
Ponder didn’t get the best protection and felt the pressure through most of his time behind center. Matt Kalil who has been having a very bad preseason at left tackle was probably the worst of the offenders in their poor coverage.
There were some bright spots – Cook before he left the game with injury; Desmond Bishop with a few impressive tackles while playing with the first team defense and the interception from Chad Greenway that led to the first touchdown. But the Vikings don’t seem to be on a path of improvement when compared with last season, with too many injuries or simply a lack of upgrade during the offseason at other positions holding them back.
The most worrying case is Ponder, who everyone is waiting for to stop becoming the guy who throws an interception every game and relies on his running back to bail him out. According to the preseason, those problems in his game still haven’t been figured out.